Health & Fitness » Highlights » Vol. 30

Recent Innovations in the Treatment of Cataracts

By Bonnie An Henderson, MD

More than 20 million Americans aged 40 and older have cataracts ~ the number one cause of vision loss in the U.S.1 That is over 20% of the population over 40! In Massachusetts alone, 564,000 people have cataracts. The national prevalence rivals the number of Americans who have type 2 diabetes, considered an epidemic in America.2

The difference between diabetes and cataracts though, is that many Americans demote vision health and exams to the bottom of their “to do” list of health appointments. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only half of the estimated 61 million adults at high risk for serious vision loss visited an eye doctor in the last 12 months.3 This is a significant health concern facing the U.S., especially given that the CDC predict a notable spike in cataract cases ~ up to 30.1 million by 2020 ~ as the Baby Boomer generation ages. 1 It is important for this generation to:

  • Pay attention to their vision/eye health and be proactive in pursuing options when cataracts become an issue

  • Talk to their ophthalmologist about the prevalence, causes, and risk factors of cataracts

  • Discuss with their ophthalmologist the success experienced with major advancements in cataract surgery and the intraocular lenses that are implanted during cataract surgery

health-and-fitness-lead-dr-bonnie-an-hendersonIt is vital for families to encourage senior members to take the loss of eyesight seriously and realize that for many, it would mean the loss of their independence and the loss of many of the things that bring joy to their lives ~ seeing their grandchildren, watching television, visiting with friends, reading even large-print books, preparing their own meals, etc.

Cataract surgery has been available for many years and is one of the most common and successful operations performed in the U.S.4 It is also one of the safest and most effective types of procedures, and advances in replacement lenses can successfully restore a full range of clear vision for patients.

In fact, with some options, patients can actually eliminate their need for glasses or contacts after cataract surgery. Imagine ~ grandparents could be seeing better than their grandchildren after choosing an advanced technology lens for their eyes!

Bonnie An Henderson, MD, is an assistant clinical professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, one of US News and World Report’s “Top Doctors 2012,” a leading cataract surgeon in the US, and the founder and president of Women Ophthalmologists of New England.

References

1) www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basic_information/eye_disorders.htm

2) www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/pdf/ndfs_2011.pdf

3) www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/data/national.htm

4) www.nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts.asp#4a

Photo courtesy of aspx.apacrs.org.

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